The superintendent of the Loudoun County Public School Scott Ziegler confirmed that he sent an email to the members of the School Board informing them about the case of sexual assault against a 15-year girl in a bathroom in the school. The email was sent on May 28, however, Ziegler himself said on June 22, when asked about sexual assaults allegations, during a school board meeting that “we don’t have any record of assaults occurring in our restroom”.
The Loudoun County School Board has been under heavy controversy, as parents have accused the school of teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) to its students, making Loudoun County the center stage of the national debate over schools. However, the county board has been mired in scandal over the last few days, after the Daily Wire revealed that the County knew about a sexual assault case where a female student was allegedly raped by a male student wearing a skirt and failed to properly report it.
The Daily Wire investigation also revealed that Scott Smith, the father of the victim, was also dragged out of a school board meeting after he lashed out at the school board’s officials after they denied that the board had any knowledge of sexual assault occurring in their bathrooms, Smith became viral after the police dragged him away from the meeting. The Wire then reported that the same male student who was accused of sexual assault against Smith’s daughter was then arrested by local police after assaulting another girl at a different school
After the Wire’s report was published, the county school board superintended issued a statement apologizing to the parents, saying that while the school authorities “complied with our obligations” he acknowledged that the process was “insufficient” and that he will be proposing changes to the way the schools manage cases of sexual assault in the future. Beth Barts, an embattled school board member who was facing a recall attempt, resigned a few days after the report came out.
The scandal has also led many Loudoun County parents to present a lawsuit against the local school authorities, with Scott Smith saying that the sexual assault that his daughter suffered “should never happen to any young girl, or any child attending a public school”. Smith, who was arrested for obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct after he protested the false statements that Ziegler made in the June 22nd meeting, said that his family has been “unfortunately pulled into this nightmare” and that he believes that the transgender policies at schools need to be revised to ensure the safety of all students.
The latest revelations of the way that Ziegler handled the sexual assault case will surely raise more questions than he and the school board should have answered, for example: Why did the school board and other officials fail to report the sexual assault to the local authorities? Why did Ziegler say during the school board meeting that there was no record of sexual assaults when he clearly knew that there was one? How was it possible for the same suspect to sexually assault another student at a different school after the authorities knew about the earlier case?
The Loudoun County School board scandal has also become an important part of the current governor race between Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, with the former one calling for a full investigation on the way that the Loudoun school board handled the assault, while the Democrat has not addressed the scandal. The issue of schools has become a growingly central one in the Virginia gubernatorial race, with the Republican candidate promising to ban CRT in schools and bashing McAuliffe for him saying he doesn’t believe “parents should be telling schools what to teach”.
Regardless of how the Loudoun County scandal fits into the larger national debate over schooling, what remains clear is that the school board members of Loudoun County will have to answer many tough questions as parents demand accountability over the scandal.
Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.